If you come across negative attitudes to you as a disabled passenger, here are some things you can try to help manage stressful travel situations.
Negative attitudes you might face
Most people will treat you with respect and as a fellow passenger. Others might just be concerned about whether you need help. They might ask questions about how you are or if you need help. This can be annoying, but it’s at least well-meaning.
talk about you based on the equipment you are using, such as a wheelchair or mobility scooter
talk about your impairment or condition (for example, if you are partially sighted and use a mobile phone while holding a cane)
not believe that you are disabled if you have a non-visible impairment
tut, sigh, swear or roll their eyes at you
Staff on public transport should be helpful and understanding. They might be rude or insensitive sometimes without meaning to be. You can challenge this or you can choose to ignore it.
You do not need to prove you cannot wear a mask. If you’re worried about what other people might say or do, you can use ‘exemption cards’ to explain that you or your child cannot wear a mask. You can have it on your phone or print it.
If you need more time to do something or find it hard to communicate, the Just A Minute (JAM) card might help. It is an easy way to ask others for space or patience when using public transport or shopping.
If you’re going to be in a situation where your child might react, you could hand out printed cards describing your child’s condition and what they need.
Manage things in your own way
You might feel able to confront people with negative attitudes directly. But it’s fine not to respond if you’re too tired or they’re being hostile. If you are confident talking about disability with new people, this might help.
For example, if someone is staring at you
You may choose to start a conversation with them or you may try to ignore it.
If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, you can choose to confront them, for example if they are saying abusive things. Depending on the situation, you may decide that the best thing is to ignore it.
You have the right to travel without being harassed. If people do not recognise this, you also have a right to stick up for yourself. If you feel comfortable and safe in doing so, talk to them.
Asking for help
Many people on public transport are likely to be kind and willing to help.
You are not responsible for how other people behave
Experiencing negative attitudes can be distressing. But it’s important not to let a bad experience put you off travelling.
You are not responsible for other people’s attitudes or behaviour. It reflects on them, not you.
Other ways to travel
You have the same right to travel as everyone else. As a last resort, you may decide that you’re more comfortable travelling a different way. For example, if people behave negatively towards you on trains, you might choose to travel by bus or taxi instead. But it’s your choice.